Throughout your entire life, your bones remodel themselves, continuously replacing old bone with new bone. Up until you are approximately 40 years old, your body replaces all of your old bone with new bone. However, once you reach approximately 40 years of age, your body begins to replace less of your old bone with new bone. Furthermore, once women go into menopause, their bone loss rapidly increases.
More specifically, in the 10 years following menopause, a woman can lose 40% of their spongy, inner bone and 10% of their hard, outer bone. When bone loss occurs, your bones get weaker and are more prone to fractures and osteoporosis. Several vitamins can help you strengthen your bones and maintain good bone health.
Vitamin D is essential to maintaining strong bones. Without vitamin D, your body is not able to absorb calcium, which is also vital for maintaining good bone health. These days, it’s difficult to get your daily recommended amount of vitamin D strictly through diet and sun exposure. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fish contains a substantial amount of vitamin D. Other foods, such as milk, fortified cereal, and eggs contain only a small amount of the vitamin. You can take a vitamin D supplement to get your daily recommended amount of the vitamin. Talk with your doctor about how much vitamin D you should take.
Vitamin C is important for bones, skin, and connective tissues throughout your body. According to Livestrong, a study indicates that vitamin C supplements may have a positive effect on bone mineral density, especially for postmenopausal women who take calcium supplements and use estrogen therapy.
You can incorporate foods, such as oranges, green peppers, kiwis, broccoli, cantaloupes, and red peppers into your diet to get vitamin C. You can also discuss taking a vitamin C supplement with your doctor.
Vitamin B12 is also important for healthy bones. According to American Bone Health, a study done at Tufts University showed that low levels of vitamin B12 were linked to a higher risk of osteoporosis in women and men. Vitamin B12 is found in meat and fish. Vegans who don’t consume meat or dairy are at risk for bone loss. Additionally, individuals who cannot absorb B12, such as those who have undergone gastric bypass, those who have certain gastrointestinal disorders, and the elderly, are also at risk for bone loss. In these cases, a doctor may choose to give B12 injections to help protect bone health.
Calcium helps reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Calcium is important for maintaining bone health and aids the body in building strong and healthy bones. Good sources of calcium include milk, plain or fruit yogurt, cheese, lactose-free milk, buttermilk, spinach, broccoli, canned salmon, soybeans, okra, sardines, rainbow trout, and fortified foods, such as orange juice, breakfast cereal, and oatmeal.
Vitamin K is also important for bone health because it helps attract calcium to the bone. Low blood levels of vitamin K are associated with low bone density and an increased risk of fracture. Good sources of vitamin K include spinach, kale, broccoli, kiwi, okra, blueberries, collard greens, asparagus, and cabbage.
Osteoblasts, bone building cells, are influenced by vitamin A. Good sources of vitamin a include cooked sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, pumpkin, butternut squash, dried apricots, dried peaches, cantaloupe, tuna, oysters, mackerel, mangoes, and papayas.
However, research reveals that too much vitamin a is actually linked to lower bone density and fractures. The recommended daily amount of vitamin a for women 19 years of age and older is 2,300 International units (IUs) and 3,000 IUs for men 19 years of age and older.
As we get older, maintaining strong and healthy bones becomes more difficult. Vitamins A, B12, C, D, and K as well as calcium are all essential to maintaining good bone health. While you may not be able to avoid osteoporosis or bone fractures altogether by taking these vitamins, you can reduce your risk for osteoporosis and fractures by incorporating these vitamins into your diet.